#TeamCyberPunk - Part Five: Neuroplasticity - @BenDWong

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Neuroplasticity

by BenDWong

I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed me ideas; they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind. And this one: I'm going to tell it -- but take care not to smile at any part...

- Emily Bronte


One - Fatigue

If there's one experience I could really go the mile without having, it'd be waking up in a white-walled, bleach-tiled room not knowing where the hell I am, or why, or if they've got the wrong guy, or if some jackass had hit me from behind and rendered me quadriplegic. What if you were in for a crime and couldn't remember doing it? Then who are you really; they guy who did or didn't commit the crime? Obviously the guy who did the crime is in there somewhere, but they can't separate him from the innocent you. It's really confusing. No wonder people are still developing schizophrenia.

That's why if something messes with the chemicals in your head it messes with you. But I guess that's pretty obvious. At least, you'd know that if you were a Buddhist. But then again - I used to think to myself sometimes - even if I had smashed a bottle over some fool's head in a godforsaken downtown bar, it wouldn't be that bad. Because looking at fifteen years in prison you wouldn't have to choose what happens next. The rest of your life plays out automatically; no struggling, no tricks, no lies. You finally get to relax, just like watching a movie. Well... That's what I thought it would be like, anyway.

~

In Berlin the streets just keep on going, and going, and going. The buildings on either side go up and off into the distance like the steep cliffs of a fjord, and I wouldn't be surprised if the wind passing through them came straight from Norway. And I'm not kidding when I say they have the meanest winters. My friend Michelle is from Yorkshire, which is fifty miles further north, and she says they haven't got nothing on the German nights. But that night - boy, was I prepared. I'd busted all my money on these wind shield pants, a fur coat and this mean balaclava. That's important, especially when you're going to one of those Backhouse internet cafes that look like Sunny's Computer Repair got a face-lift.

Some of those places are true freak-zoos. Like that cantina from Star Wars, but with glitchy-as house music and sterile air-conditioning. But what's worse is the kids that hang out there. I'm not one of those nineteen-year-olds that calls eighteen-year-olds kids, no, I mean kids, eight to twelve, God have mercy on them - they sit there all day, hacking gates and bouncing signals, and they don't even blink when the mafia comes in. We call those kids demons - you know, like the ones Harth summons in Fray? That's what spending seven of your twelve breathing years in front of a screen does to you.

But heck, I wonder, can we even judge them? Whose fault is it, that they are as they are? Sometimes I think it's no one's fault. Sometimes I think there's an energy that pulls us and jerks us like puppets, an invisible director of the world as omnipresent and eternal as the cold that creeps up over every dark horizon. Sometimes I worry that that energy is malign, that's it's dragging us all down to some sort of rock bottom, and that we can only notice it subconsciously. Because why else can't the black suits who reside above all of us stop for a moment and realizing they're doing nothing good? Why else do our streets get grittier and grittier by night?

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